by MIA FREEDMAN
For me, shopping and subterfuge have always been inextricably linked. Not grocery shopping. Not shopping for necessities like tyres or white goods or school shoes or sheets. Not shopping for others, not gifts.
But buying things for yourself and being deceitful about it go together like ice cream and Milo. Naturally.
Consider one of the most popular modern sports for women: Shop, Hide and Lie where you buy things, sneak them into your house to avoid questioning and then lie if asked (by a man), “Is that new?”
We have regular debates in my house about the definition of ‘new’. Is it something I bought this week? This year? Or just something my husband hasn’t seen me in before?
My own definition is tight. It’s new if I bought it in the previous 72 hours. Once the tag is off? Not new anymore. Conveniently, this allows me to meet almost all his enquiries with the truthful response: “No, it’s old”. (Quick aside: why do I bristle and deny it when my husband asks if something is new but when a girlfriend asks, I beam and say “yes!’ and proudly disclose all details of said purchase?).
Most women are adept at the art of smuggling purchases from store to wardrobe. Some even keep dry-cleaner bags in their cars for this very purpose while others stash swing tags in the glove box or the neighbour’s wheelie bin.
I’ve given much thought as to why we bother with this charade, even if we’re spending our own money. Perhaps it’s instinctive. Like the way my dog will always bury a bone. Clearly, this is unnecessary because there is no shortage of bones or food and nobody is going to steal the disgusting manky thing if he leaves it on the grass. Still, he buries it. The urge is embedded in his doggy DNA.
I bury my shopping even though my husband doesn’t care if I buy things I may not actually need (the definition of ‘need’ is also highly contentious at my house; I find debating technicalities is an effective diversionary tactic to defect attention from a new purchase. Try it.).
With less shopping time available as the demands of work and kids crank up, I’ve recently had an online shopping epiphany… I’d dabbled a bit in the past. A bit of eBay here. The odd purchase there. But until recently, my usual modus operandi has been this perverse thing where I gaily fill my online shopping cart and then abandon it at the checkout, close the window and forget about it. This is surprisingly satisfying. But why?